back to article The Great IoT Protocol War may have been won: Thread's 1.2 release aims at business

The smart home and internet-of-things market has long suffered from a plethora of protocols and standards: from X10 and ZigBee, to LightwaveRF, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, HomeKit, Weave, and Brillo. This month, however, we may finally have found a winner. Or, at least, a co-winner. Thread version 1.2 [PDF] was just released, and …

  1. Semtex451

    Was there any effort to make bluetooth power efficient before BLE?

  2. Mystereed

    Obligatory xkcd

    1. Neil Alexander

      Re: Obligatory xkcd

      The number 927 is burned into my memory because of this particular xkcd comic. Appropriate for so many things.

  3. LDS Silver badge

    "thus improving the battery life of IoT devices"

    "We don't want to lose any of your precious data just because the batteries are low!"

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "each company trying its best not to work with the others"

    That was fine before this because there was no reason to become compatible. Ease of use does not include being friendly with the competition.

    But now, apparently, things have changed. If this new Thread does what it says on the tin, the enterprise market is going to flock to it and the home market will have to follow because manufacturers are not going to bother with one protocol for business and one for home. That would be a useless hassle.

    And if that happens, then the upcoming versions of Nest, Ring and Homekit are going to have to be compatible or they will not sell well.

    It's as if Apple was forcing the use of TokenRing - yeah, it works, but everyone is using Ethernet these days, so Apple would be restricting itself to a very slim margin of the market. If Thread 1.2 fulfills its promises, then the others will just have to get in line.

    And that will be a good thing for everyone.

    1. Khaptain Silver badge

      Re: "each company trying its best not to work with the others"

      "If Thread 1.2 fulfills its promises, then the others will just have to get in line."

      Well, Microsoft have a pretty consistent track record for ensuring that standards are never fully adhered too. Apple are known for putting a heavy price tag on anything they touch, Google will remove all your privacy if they are invloved and IBM will never actually get round to finishing it whilst the open souce crowd will make 15 versions and 120 forks.

      And then, someone will come up with a newer, better, faster technology that is much cheaper but none of the majors players are currently involved in so it will simply get fogotten...

      Sarcastic, who me ?

      1. SImon Hobson

        Re: "each company trying its best not to work with the others"

        Only a little sarcastic, with a large dose of realism and experience !

        I have a different approach to interoperability between Google, Amazon, and Apple IoTat - I don't interoperate with any of them. A relative does have an Alexa, and yes it does seem to have some convenience features, but no way am I letting any of that sort of intrusive crap into my home or onto my network.

      2. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Re: "each company trying its best not to work with the others"

        I do my best to promote AI technology/ structuring of texts in life...Despite the fact that all behemoths are against it (and me), plus the Government/CIA. Indeed, it is enough to attach the structured text to the IoT signal and you have received your standard (and privacy).

        But I have a hope! There are 8,705 startups and companies listed in Crunchbase today who are relying on machine learning for their main and ancillary applications, products, and services - which means 8,705 structure texts! Indeed, machine learning is impossible without the structuring to synonymous clusters.

        Thus I'll certainly win and the new standard with me.

  5. gerdesj Silver badge

    Oh crap

    Oh damn, I'll have to throw away all those years of experience, hardware and software in favour of this. How on earth I got by on just ZigBee, ZWave, wifi, Bluetooth etc is beyond me. Of course one protocol will rule them all and cover all eventualities - yay \o/

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A plague on all of them

    Instead of offering up YAIP (Yet Another Incompatible Protocol) perhaps someone should do something about the insecurity of most devices that fall under the IoT branding.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A plague on all of them

      "Someone" will get right on that as soon as they do something about the insecurity of devices in the enterprise market, the SME market and home PCs/routers.

    2. I.Geller Bronze badge

      IoT, AI and the signals can be encrypted and used only by those who have the keys.

      IoT signals, by themselves, are problematic to encrypt because there is practically nothing. Another thing is if they are annotated with structured texts, that is AI technology is used. For example, the IoT signals can be annotated by instructions, manuals, descriptions, etc. That is, there is a volume of patterns that is unique, can be encrypted and used only by those who have the keys.

  7. Brian Scott

    Of course what we really need for IoT devices is for them not to need to talk to the mothership at Google, Amazon, Apple, or their chinese equivalents.

    I bought an IoT power switch recently that would only work when used through the prescribed app. That app sent my requests of to a server in china which was also connected to the device. Coincidentally the app also insisted on knowing my GPS coordinates from the phone. This means that there exists, somewhere in the chinese part of the cloud, a database of devices and exactly where they are located in the world and the means to turn them off and on. Very scary. I wanted to name my switch 'nuclear reactor purge' but my wife wouldn't let me!

    The problem is that most people don't have any sort of infrastructure at home that could happily manage this sort of thing in a well protected way (register readers excepted!). The easy answer for lazy manufacturers to get a product to market is to run a central server somewhere to manage things for everyone. It also allows them to think of ways to monetise all their connected customers sometime in the future.

    The proper answer is for someone to build a suitably simple piece of hardware kit that everyone can have in their home that can manage their own devices without recourse to servers in some undefined part of the world. It would have to be based on open standards so there would be multiple compatible implementations from different vendors using different chipsets. Builders of IoT would need to support the same standards.

    Wishful thinking I know. Standardised protocols are only the beginning of a very long path to enlightened happiness.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "that would only work when used through the prescribed app"

      I'm refusing to buy anything requiring an "app" to be used - as the app poses an upper limit to the device lifespan. From some devices I do expect they work for years, not until the next update of iOS or Android borks the app that will be never updated. Nor I want to chase my phone every time I need to control something (when I'm at home the phone is in the studio while I can be elsewhere, I don't live in symbiosis with it), find the app, launch the app, wait for that to become responsive and only then be able to do what I need.

    2. Suricou Raven

      I have a remote power switch for a light too. I built it from a radio module and a relay. No software involved, works very well.

    3. druck Silver badge

      A Raspberry Pi with open source software is more than capable of controlling every IOT device in the home.

      The protocols used aren't the problem, the main issue is most people's home internet is provided by cheap and nasty (in the US read expensive and nasty) ISP's who hide the connection behind layers of NAT, and it isn't a one click process to access the devices from the smartphone app everyone demands.

      The reason an external server is used for off the shelf IOT stuff, is both the device and the app have a publicly available server they can connect to, without having to configure router firewalls and dynamic DNS. The disadvantages are that you can be charged a subscription to access the server, the server can mine all the data passing through it to sell to whoever. And best of all, whenever the vendor feels like it, they can switch the server off making all the devices completely useless.

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        >The disadvantages are that you can be charged a subscription to access the server, the server can mine all the data passing through it to sell to whoever.

        Another major disadvantage is that the majority of the public will have devices from multiple vendors, so that won't be a single server, but multiple servers - and that's just for the lights...

    4. Is It Me

      I have said it before, using an in house z-wave controller means nothing is sent to any outside entity unless you want it to be.

      You can do port fowarding etc. at the router level if you want outside access, or if you so decide on some of them you can use the manufacturers cloud service, but as the controller is yours and at your home even if that company dies or turns off it's servers everything keeps working.

    5. Roland6 Silver badge

      The problem is that most people don't have any sort of infrastructure at home that could happily manage this sort of thing in a well protected way

      Well given the vision behind smartmeters...

      Smartmeters already have some form of Home Area Network (HAN) so that they can communicate with the In Home Display (aka Smart Meter Display or Home Energy Monitor) additionally, given the future where your energy provider/smartmeter controller will control your energy usage, it seems likely and sensible that the home IoT hub/server is part of the smartmeter. This also providing a single place someone needs to enter their preferences - having to provide movement details/schedules to a dozen or so IoT maufacturers' dedicated websites is going to be the fasted way to kill IoT

    6. Mike 137 Silver badge

      @Brian Scott

      excellent concept, but the fundamental problem is that the primary financial return is usually in the data slurping - the hardware is often provided at cost or as a loss leader, or is at least cost-minimised to the bare limit, as it's only a means of obtaining the data. That's mainly why most IoT kit is such rubbish.


    Simple question ?

    Do you need to run Thread 1.2 router on a seperate RF network or can it be solely IPv6 and Bluetooth ?

    the natural place for Thread is the gateway router but you wont be able to upgrade that hardware any time soon however if you can provide a nice software upgrade then it might have a chance... otherwise its DNS Service Discovery and IPv6

  9. ThomH


    I'm going to take the guess that the home automation market is ripe for protocol consolidation as many of the parties currently offering solutions look at their sales figures and wonder whether they could somehow eliminate those pesky development costs, as the whole departments aren't exactly money spinners. Even smart watches seem to be enjoying better adoption.

    Not that it helped much with home automation's most obvious immediate predecessor, 3d TV.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


  11. I.Geller Bronze badge

    The universal standard is structured texts.

    Honestly tried to hold back and not write on this topic, because my desire to add AI to everything that is and is not makes me tired...

    The universal standard is structured texts. When added they make IoT signals unique and allow to do with them absolutely everything imaginable and most of unthinkable.

    1. TriathlonMan

      Re: The universal standard is structured texts.

      Try harder, please.

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Re: The universal standard is structured texts.

        Thank you for your support, dear TriathlonMan! Really, why am I being modest? It is obvious that AI technology will be applied everywhere, it will very soon become the standard for IoT signals.

  12. easytoby

    LoRA for large scale still wins I think

    Individual small numbers of items dropped into a WiFi network this seems positive. However for large scale deployments of 1000+ devices across a site the LoRA work still looks much more scalable to me.

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